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January 22, 2007

Hillary's Ceiling

There's an emergent consensus that Clinton's notoriety renders her current poll numbers a ceiling. Americans already know what they think of her, the theory goes, and so her support is currently maxed out. She's nowhere to go but down. But watch her announcement video. Support for Hillary's reputation may be at its peak, but the actual Hillary is a considerable more engaging, authoritative, interesting figure. She's going to be much better in practice than in theory, particularly if she can shed her cautious impulses and craft a platform featuring a few inspiring planks. I agree that Penn's spin is annoying, and the unceasing professionalism of the Clinton team may well smother the spontaneity and warmth the campaign needs to catch fire. But if, to steal a phrase, they let Hillary be Hillary, I think folks may be surprised how well she plays.

January 22, 2007 in Election 2008 | Permalink

Comments

I personally find Hillary underwhelming on both the substantive and charismatic level, but I've been surprised how her reputation and approval have improved in conservative-moderate upstate New York (where I live). I've heard countless times from people who are not particularly predisposed to vote Democratic things like "I don't agree with her on X, but she really has been a good Senator for New York." I think people who don't travel in highly-political circles actually can still warm to her. I think the Hillary's-capped-out-her-potential-popularity meme may be truer among people who think and write about politics.

Posted by: Joseph Hovsep | Jan 22, 2007 10:09:48 AM

"There's an emergent consensus that Clinton's notoriety renders her current poll numbers a ceiling. Americans already know what they think of her, the theory goes, and so her support is currently maxed out. She [has] nowhere to go but down."

Really? Kevin Drum, nothing if not a consensus monkey, says she's gonna win in part because: "She has nowhere to go but up. Seriously. Every nasty thing that can possibly be said about her has already been said."

So we have two emerging conensuses (consensi?), directly contadictory. which means that we have no consensus at all.

Here's what I think: she could go up and she could go down. I get should get paid for this shit.

Posted by: davidmizner | Jan 22, 2007 10:17:27 AM

Ouch! Ok, I watched her announcement video with an open mind, and it confirmed everything I wished weren't true. Everything so carefully controlled, carefully scripted and delivered with a fake folksyism that is offensive in its obviousness. The living room chat thing, the attempts to be less wooden and more of a people - person...its like the worst of Gore 2000 mixed with the worst of Hillary in Clinton '92. Oh, and the reference to "...people working hard should be able to get ahead thing..." that was her husband's theme. Ugggh. Is this all she has?

At least Bill Richardson, Obama and Edwards are authentically people persons. You can't fake that. Or maybe you can. Hillary's motto? "The secret to success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you got it made."

Posted by: Rareflight | Jan 22, 2007 10:21:14 AM

I completely agree. I think even I could warm up to her.

Posted by: jambro | Jan 22, 2007 10:34:20 AM

Hil has some serious haters in net- and grass-roots circles. They will not be swayed by anything. Some would even not vote for her if she were the nominee. No other candidate has that going against them.

Also, let's just consider what you wrote. "...particularly if she can shed her cautious impulses and craft a platform featuring a few inspiring planks."

She exists in the most impermeable bubble of media managers in the Democratic Party. Just how likely is it that she will be anything other than overwhelmingly scripted?

Her platform is also going to be vetted by the same immensely conservative minders (that's small 'c' conservative, natch). And besides, while it is possible that an impressively pragmatic approach to something or another could emerge from their group, it will be heavily burdened with the legacy of "Hillarycare."

I would say that HRC faces a very tough slog, and is unlikely to improve enough to make a difference. In short, I'm just not seein it.

Oh, and that leaves out the relative strengths of other candidates in the early primary states.

Posted by: chimneyswift | Jan 22, 2007 11:00:44 AM

Ouch! Ok, I watched her announcement video with an open mind, and it confirmed everything I wished weren't true. Everything so carefully controlled, carefully scripted and delivered with a fake folksyism that is offensive in its obviousness.

Ditto. "Let's chat"? YIIIIICHHHHHHH. Plus the "let's talk about these issues" rhetorical frame allows her to avoid actually proposing anything about anything. I definitely like her less after seeing it.

Posted by: Antid Oto | Jan 22, 2007 12:37:35 PM

I spent some time yesterday reading the lengthy and mostly balanced article by Joshua Green in the the November 2006 issue of The Atlantic.

It's a good read, and tells much between the lines on what kind of candidate and President she would be: expect no major liberal/progressive programs of wide scope from her - she has become the master of incrementalism (and surprisingly, bi-partisanship in the Senate).

I think her polling fortunes will vary, but the disturbing part is her high negatives currently (and for some time in the past). Maybe that won't be an obstacle to nomination or election, but she starts with very few people in the undetermined category.

She clearly is positioned as the candidate with dug-in infrastructure (money, staff, alliances, etc.). I wish her well, as well as other potential nominees like Edwards, Obama and Clark - but none of the others except potentially Gore.

Those looking for what appears to be open sincerity, spontaneousness, and bold leadership best look elsewhere. The Atlantic article convinced me that she is completely buttoned-up and adjustably programmed. She is going to avoid anything that has a chance of being a major mistake in policy or performance.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jan 22, 2007 1:42:22 PM

How about a compromise a ceiling for the primary and a floor for the general. Or rather likely directions for her to go. In the primary obama & edwards are fresh/exciting/more electable(not saying she is un-)/more liberal. The attacks on her have helped her dem creds a lot increasing her popularity among dems, her positioning could hurt her. In primary her image is overinflated. If she makes it to the general where her image is underinflated she could well rise a bit.

Posted by: rtaycher1987 | Jan 22, 2007 1:53:24 PM

Agreed. Hillary is similar to Bush in 2000, in that a lot of people have preconceived notions that will be dispelled when they, you know, see her talk.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Jan 22, 2007 2:36:31 PM

Hil has some serious haters in net- and grass-roots circles. They will not be swayed by anything. Some would even not vote for her if she were the nominee. No other candidate has that going against them.

I agree that nothing will bring some netroots types over to Clinton's side unless she divorces Bill, renounces the Third Way, defecates on the DLC logo, adopts Dennis Kucinich's platform wholesale, and tearfully begs each and every netroots commenter for forgiveness, personally, for whatever sin it is she's committed in their minds. And even then, their reaction would probably be, "Why didn't you do this sooner? Bitch."

The thing is, though, that the "netroots" are a few hundred people who comment on a variety of blogs like this one, repeating the same opinions over and over again, eventually convincing each other that the whole country shares their views.

So sure, Clinton will have as many netroots supporters as John Kerry did in 2003. And there's a pretty good chance that the netroots will spend the next year beating up on her, only to once again be left in the dust when the voting starts, going, "But...but...the base hates Hillary! Everyone we talk to agrees!"

the unceasing professionalism of the Clinton team may well smother the spontaneity and warmth the campaign needs to catch fire.

The Kerry campaign's Iowa operation had "unceasing professionalism" while the Dean campaign had more "spontaneity and warmth." How did that turn out again?

Posted by: Chris | Jan 23, 2007 12:36:50 AM

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Posted by: JUDY | Sep 26, 2007 4:29:53 AM

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